The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Bukit Genting
This is part of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang. Click here for the index. This is a Grade 2 walk, with a couple of Grade 3 spots. There is a sketch map at the bottom showing the route followed.
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
"What time will the next 501 be going to Balik Pulau?" I innocently asked Rapid Penang's representative at Teluk Bahang. "09.30" he replied immediately. "And what about the timetable you have here in the window which says 09.45???". The next part of the conversation was entirely predictable and I left for my breakfast absolutely certain that we would not be left behind as we had been two days earlier. My favourite Higer PHH 4498 appeared to be no more and we had a bog standard Scania which shot us up the hill and and down the other side in almost no time, so quickly in fact that even though we had 15 minutes less connection time we were able to stock up with buns for the hike; something which delighted Yuehong who tends to fade in mid-hike without a snack. PHH 8260 was still on the 403 service and to my amazement we even had 'grippers' on board. Just why Rapid Penang felt they had to send out no less than four ticket inspectors on a service which would boast just three passengers after we alighted, God only knows, but it's a pretty ride and maybe they were afraid of angry locals who are accustomed to travelling for free.
I digress as always. We were looking for the path described by groups of
So far so good, we ambled down the road, Yuehong enjoyed signs that the locals enjoyed a spot of gardening and we turned right at the first major 'Jalan Kampung' as they had. (If you follow the links as above, you'll notice that in one the picture on the right below is misplaced on the map which doesn't give me total confidence thereafter!)
After a while we had the choice of bearing left along the foot of the hill to the Chinese temple and who knows what or following the concrete trail up the hill which seemed a better option (looking again at the bikers' reports I think maybe they went to the Chinese temple and up a wider path from there). On the right going in was an attractive orchid farm but the netting around it defeated my camera. Just after the trail became for 2 wheels only, this attractive wooden house could be seen up a side trail, alas the sleeping dogs eventually detected my presence and I retreated.
The first fruit picker we talked to told us that the trail was a dead end. That didn't sound too good but we kept on climbing. The second said that the path actually led to Pulau Betong which would have been very interesting if it had been true. Given that no-one we met on this part of the hike was born in Malaysia let alone Penang, it's perhaps not surprising that their local geography was sadly lacking. The durian and rambutan season was well over, the current fruit was probably Cempedak but was hidden from sight.
The views were excellent (and not dissimilar from those on the website quoted). The first shows what are probably Penang's last paddy fields, the second looks across towards Pantai Aceh and Bukit Kecil near Sungai Pinang
In my youth and with the right bike, I would have had no real problem cycling up, but eventually the path terminated near the top of the hill with a large wall in front of us behind which was a concrete road. I scrambled up and over, it took Yuehong a little bit longer. Yes, maybe the bikers did use another route? That's one for a second exploration!
This seemed to be a disused spur off a serious concrete road and we then climbed up it until it ended beyond the transmission masts at a somewhat dowdy restaurant that had seen better days but was obviously enjoying a welcome boost over Chinese New Year.
What it did have though was further excellent views similar to those we had seen on the way up and a new view down to Teluk Kumbar:
Note that there are actually two concrete roads, we came up the 'down' and then went down the 'up' which is marked as a 'No Entry' at the top. I knew that the bikers had turned off the access road and descended through the rubber to Teluk Kumbar but the map showed insufficient detail to be sure just where. So we simply took the first available path which was just below a transmission mast, look carefully at the picture if you plan to go this way, it's easy to miss. Being the dry season the path was somewhat covered in leaves but readily followed.
The path did a horseshoe around a small valley and emerged into a clearer rubber plantation and led downwards along the edge of it, beyond was more overgrown rubber. These estates tend to have a depressing similarity but at least this one was well maintained.
Eventually it seemed that the path would end along with the estate and I left Yuehong to go down and have a look. I should have looked to the next door estate, the rubber had become durian and there was a concrete trail just across the boundary. Of course, you would have never found it without doing a short bit of bashing (cycling anyone?).
The rest was easy as they say, we just had to go with the flow downhill. This seemed to be an older than average concrete trail as it had a zig-zag course which made for very pleasant walking except that it had a very high density of mosquitoes. OK, maybe it was a little overgrown to start with..
Should anyone be perverse enough to want to do this walk in reverse, apart from finding the starting point (see right at the end below), one critical point is a junction half way down where we joined a larger path (on which I am standing for this picture - we came from beside the shed and went down the hill to the right). It seems the local fruit pickers do not trust their neighbours, this ladder was padlocked to a tree.
Of course, walking out was no problem, eventually the path came out on a 'Jalan Kampung' which we followed past a turkey farm (yes that is a peacock which was sitting on their shed) and this very attractive 'traditional modern' house.
We emerged on the road that loops around the back of Teluk Kumbar village and walked towards the main round-the-island road. Along the way a lady was serving a delicious concoction which seemed to be soya bean milk with a molasses sweetener. We had just enough time to take delivery of a couple when a 308 bus came past, never mind it was 'between stops' there was no problem to board. It was actually only just gone 15.00 but thereafter we easily killed enough time with more buses (303 and 101) so we got our breakfast bread and to our regular eating stalls at a perfect time.
We may not have followed their route exactly, but we are most grateful to the bikers who wrote the web report and introduced us to this area. It's a really nice walk.
If you're doing the walk in the reverse direction then the key to getting started is to be at the corner by the Sekolah Rendah Al-Itqan, Pulau Pinang. Go down the 'Jalan Kampung' opposite and almost immediately bear round to the right.
Follow the road for some distance ignoring the minor turns off it. Eventually you will come to a Y-junction, take the counter-intuitive right fork. After you pass the turkey farm take the concrete trail to the left which climbs up the hill. If you go too far, the road ends and beyond is a house with more than its fair share of noisy dogs.
Be sure to turn right at the rusty shed shown in the main narrative, thereafter it's just a question of remembering that you have to cross into the rather tidier rubber estate at some point, and that will be on your right after some distance. There's no easy way of describing a certain point, it's a question of trial and error, based on experience... After all it's what we did in the opposite direction albeit such link points are usually easier to spot descending.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson